On Tuesday, May 10, Great Neck Public School teacher, Sheri Lederman won a major victory in the fight educators across New York State have been waging against the state’s fatally flawed teacher evaluation system.
After several months of logistical and legal roadblocks thrown up by the state’s defense team Acting New York State Supreme Court Justice Roger McDonough decreed that the so-called “growth score” issued to Mrs. Lederman as part of her 2013-14 teacher evaluation should be vacated and removed from her permanent record.
The score should be vacated, McDonough ruled, because the very system used to generate that score was, in the judge’s words, “arbitrary and capricious.”
It has been clear since last summer that Mrs. Lederman would win her case after her husband and lawyer, Bruce Lederman, presented a mountain of evidence proving that the state’s, Value Added Model, or VAM, was in no way a valid assessment method for teacher evaluations.
Mr. Lederman used data and testimony from education experts - including renowned Stanford University professor emeritus, Linda Darling Hammond, and former South Side High School Principal and education leader, Dr. Carol Burris - to show that the state education department’s VAM used a strict curve that did not rate teachers on performance, but instead, attempted to ensure a certain percentage of “Ineffective” teachers regardless of the performance of the students in a teacher’s class.
The judge ruled only on Mrs. Lederman’s individual score. He could not rule on the legality of the state growth measure overall due to the fact that the state has called for a 4 year moratorium on the use of state growth scores in teacher evaluations.
However, the judge’s ruling is the first to go in favor of a teacher who has contested the validity of his/her evaluation score. The ruling will almost certainly provide legal precedence for other teachers to litigate their scores in the future, especially if the state attempts to return to the policy of including state growth scores in a teacher’s evaluation in the 2019-20 school year.
To read Judge McDonough’s complete ruling and to learn more about the Ledermancase, click here to read a wonderful article by Valerie Strauss in The Washington Post.